Steens Mountain, a 9,773-foot high, 30-mile-long ridge, the largest fault block mountain in the northern Great Basin, rises a mile above the Alvord Desert in the southeastern corner of Oregon. It has long been known as a backcountry hiking destination among the intrepid, but remains little-visited, making it a haven for those seeking "undiscovered country." Bedecked with a profusion of wildflowers in summer and yellow aspen in the fall, the mountain is home to a variety of fauna including golden eagles, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, and three herds of wild horses.
In 2000, President Clinton established the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, providing for 175,000 acres of wilderness, 100,000 acres of which is livestock-free (it is the first legislated wilderness that explicitly excludes livestock grazing.) In addition, it establishes three new wild and scenic rivers, created the first ever Redband Trout Reserve, and legislated 900,000 acres off limits to mineral and geothermal extraction.
Steens Mountain is located in southeast Oregon, east of Highway 205. Frenchglen, at the northwest edge of Steens Mountain Wilderness, is the closest town of any size. Burns, farther north up Hwy 205, has a wider selection of tourist amenities. To learn more about this area, please select a topic of interest from the navigation bar on the left.